24 Feb 2016

Building Online Communities: Our Top 5 Tips

By Ben

Last week here at BGV HQ Laura and Jussi from Club Soda, and Jamie from Talklife came in to deliver a session on building and nurturing online communities. It can often be difficult to know where to start, and so with Laura, Jussi and Jamie’s assistance, we’ve put together our top tips for building a community that will champion your business.

1. Build cheap and learn
There are plenty of existing tools out there that you can use to get your community started. Apart from the obvious social media tools (think Twitter, Facebook groups, Slack etc.), platforms like Ning can allow you to build and cultivate a community. The most important thing though is to allow people to comment and share, even if it’s not perfect.

From there, listen and learn what’s most important to your community and build on that. Startups often rush out of the gate to build stuff without actually considering what their community actually wants!

2. Nurture people who join the community
It’s really important that as your community grows you effectively engage with people and make them feel welcome. Every member of your online community is a potential brand ambassador and customer, so it’s important that you go the extra mile to make them feel valued. That said, don’t members of your community like customers, treat them as human beings and take a genuine interest in them.

3. Join other communities… but don’t be a pest
It’s important that you submerse yourself in the world of your competitors. Find out what they are doing well in the way they engage with their community and think about how you can do things differently. Be upfront about who you are but don’t actively try and poach users away from your competitors or you’ll only get yourself into trouble. 

4. Instil community values
It’s really important that you remain an active participant within the community without dominating activity there. If you don’t remain engaged, the community can go in its own direction entirely. Be clear with what the community values are, and instil those in members.

5. Measure what works (and what doesn’t)
It’s important to test what’s important to your community and what isn’t. You can look at engagement with different types of content, how often people are logging in, how many active users you have etc. The important thing is to try, fail quickly, and learn fast.

Building an online community is about more than how many followers you have on Twitter. It’s about building a focal point around which people can become passionate advocates for your business. Having an engaged, passionate community can really propel your business to the next level.